Ghana to focus on firearms amnesty and civil society

PSC Report asked HE Amma Twum-Amoah, Ghana’s ambassador to Ethiopia and African Union special representative what her country’s plans and priorities are as Peace and Security Council (PSC) chair for September 2022?

The government of Ghana seeks to continue its focus on maintaining peace and security on the continent by prioritising silencing the guns and guaranteeing the citizenry some level of peace, security and stability. Also, we intend to ensure policy recommendations to support initiatives to improve governance, democracy, respect for the rule of law and human rights. The ultimate aim is to boost socio-economic development and enhance the living standards of the African people.

We will also continue to build the capacity of the Committee of Experts to gain a deeper understanding of the continent’s peace and security dynamics. We hope to equip the body with skills and knowledge to better respond to these issues.

What does the PSC hope to achieve during the firearms Amnesty Month, commemorated in September?

African leaders declared September Amnesty Month in 2017 for the surrender and collection of illicit small arms and light weapons. This is in line with the African Union (AU) Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2030.

Ghana’s ultimate aim is to enhance the living standards of the African people

Mindful of continuous continental conflict – causing loss of lives and livelihoods, displacements and disruption of economic and social development – the PSC hopes to amplify awareness of this initiative. We will target not only member states but non-state actors, the international community, civil society organisations (CSOs), faith-based organisations and all well-meaning persons. We will urge them to join the campaign for individuals to willingly surrender their illegally acquired weapons without fear of prosecution of any form.

Additionally, we will encourage member states to adopt and incorporate the commemoration of Amnesty Month into national legislation. We would like them to report activities undertaken during the period to the AU Commission (AUC) to create a library of lessons learnt and best practices by stakeholders.

What are the objectives of the inaugural annual consultative meeting between the PSC and CSOs to be organised under your chairship?

Civil society plays a crucial role in setting agendas, creating awareness, implementing innovative and holistic responses, and applying pressure in ways that influence political will. It has been and continues to be indispensable in peacebuilding and peacemaking, as well as in promoting good governance and constitutionalism. The importance of devoting substantial efforts to building and strengthening relations with CSOs, to harness their potential, cannot be overlooked.

A number of African CSOs promote good governance, the rule of law, justice and constitutionalism. It is, therefore, imperative to strengthen the connection between their work and the implementation of AU normative frameworks promoting similar ideals and dealing with the emerging menace of unconstitutional changes of government.

We will encourage countries to incorporate the commemoration of Amnesty Month into national legislation

CSOs were active participants and played pivotal roles in the Accra Reflection Forum in March 2022. The PSC has been called on to cooperate with civil society to uphold constitutionalism and demonstrate collective commitment to the respect for and protection of fundamental AU values and principles. Thus, the engagement is an opportunity for the parties to discuss and exchange ideas on the clarion call emanating from the Accra Declaration.

The session will provide a clearer understanding of how the two can cooperate to satisfy both Accra and Malabo outcome documents. The meeting will further seek to understand the roles African CSOs could play and how these could complement the work of other stakeholders implementing the recommendations.

The consultation will look at what mechanisms and strategies could best strengthen cooperation among CSOs, the PSC, and regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) in promoting peace and stability. This is particularly important in dealing with instability brought on by poor governance, advancing the rule of law and good governance, and promoting constitutionalism.

Civil society’s contribution is indispensable to peacebuilding, good governance and constitutionalism

Finally, the session will seek actionable strategies on how best the AUC can engage CSOs to present a common plan supporting implementation of both the Accra and Malabo outcome documents. Various dimensions of the documents in whose achievement CSOs could assist will also be identified. The ultimate outcome will be to support the promotion of constitutionalism on the continent through encouraging good governance and rule of law.

Is a common African position expected from the ministerial meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly? And will its outcomes be presented to the AU Assembly for consideration at the next summit?

The meeting will discuss the prevention of and fight against terrorism and violent extremism, and we hope to reach consensus on an African position on the matter. However, engagements are taking place in the background to ensure that any outcome document will be all-inclusive. Yes, the outcomes will be presented to the AU Assembly.

How does the PSC hope to contribute to peaceful political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Mali?

These countries remain member states of the AU. Although three have been suspended, they still pay their assessed contributions. Thus, we intend to have the AU provide them with the requisite support in collaboration with their respective RECs/RMs through their transition periods and ultimately guide them back to constitutional order.

What are the aims of the PSC field mission to Togo?

It will commemorate Amnesty Month under the auspices of the Togolese government and witness, first-hand, government efforts to address the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country. It will also popularise Amnesty Month among the population.

Ghana has championed the cause against unconstitutional changes of government following the Accra Declaration. How will it sustain the momentum after its PSC chairship?

Our objective is to institutionalise the forum on unconstitutional changes in government. A  meeting will be held every year to highlight the importance of good governance, democracy, and respect for the rule of law and human rights on the continent. The meeting will also assess the progress of countries undergoing transitions.

Image: © Amma A. Twum-Amoah/Twitter

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